The United States will soon deploy soldiers to Afghanistan born after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Next August will mark the 30th anniversary of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, along with the subsequent American-led military buildup leading to Operation Desert Storm in January 1991. The American military has been directly engaged in the “greater Middle East” since.
President Donald Trump had hoped to head into the 2020 campaign season as the world’s consummate deal-maker. He may instead enter his reelection campaign not just empty-handed, but vulnerable to the charge that his policies have helped sow chaos across the globe.
Oil is in the crosshairs as the prospect of confrontation brews between the U.S. and Iran. At least, that’s how Iranian officials would have it. A top military aide to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Yahya Rahim Safavi, warned over the weekend that “The first bullet fired in the Persian Gulf will push oil prices above $100.” He added, “This would be unbearable to America, Europe and the U.S. allies like Japan and South Korea.”
U.S. foreign policy suffers from systematic flaws in the thinking of the informal policy collective which former Obama aide Ben Rhodes dismissed as “The Blob.” Perhaps no official better articulated The Blob’s defective precepts than Madeleine Albright, United Nations ambassador and Secretary of State.
During the Cold War, the United States had strong interests in ensuring the Middle East was not dominated by the Soviet Union… But today, there is no threat to the region from any hegemon. Not only that, but also the world energy balance of power has shifted dramatically. With a vastly different geopolitical reality, U.S. foreign policy should modernise and recalibrate, starting in the Middle East.
If for more than half a century oil and natural gas have been at the heart of the geopolitics of energy, it is sensible to investigate if and how this will change as a result of the global energy transition, a process driven by decarbonisation policies and by quick developments in renewable energy technologies and electric cars.
Does Trump indeed mark the end of an era? Or will he prove a transitory figure who created a mere interregnum in America’s quest for primacy after the Cold War? In speaking about America’s purpose, Trump himself has repeatedly made it clear that he seeks to overturn what he regards as the benighted policies of the past. In contrast to his predecessors, Trump has repeatedly disparaged the notion that America is uniquely virtuous.
It is possible to think two things at once: that U.S. President Donald Trump’s foreign policy has been “bad,” which many think it has been, and that it has offered a somewhat coherent alternative for how the United States should conduct itself beyond its borders. This suggests that the casual and smug dismissals of Trump, on domestic and foreign policy alike, are missing something important.